Should the sponsor of a high-school newspaper have the power to determine whether a picture of a student fight should be printed?
July 23, 2007
A Question of Judgment
From Horizon Productions of Kansas City comes this very short educational film on censorship. Two boys are fighting out front after school. This scene goes on way too long, but an interesting thing about it are the handheld camera shots from the two fighters' point of view. Nancy Martin, a reporter for the school paper, sees the ugly scene from a window, and rushes down with a camera to get some pictures she hopes to print in the paper the next day. However, the paper's faculty advisor, Mr. Bishop, is not going to let the photos be printed. He argues that it is the school paper's business to report only on the pleasant aspects of school life ("after all, some parents might be reading") and he claims that the only reason big-city papers always run stories on robbery and murder is that they're simply into sensationalism. Nancy convincingly argues that an article and photo in the paper would raise awareness and convince people that something must be done about all this fighting that's been going on lately.
In the end, the narrator's voice comes in, while a question mark slowly fills the screen, and in a very Centronesque moment, he asks, "Who is right? What would you do?" etc. The filmmakers seem to be rooting for Nancy, and as Ken Smith notes, this marks a bit of a turning point in social guidance attitudes (it's 1963, after all). It seems Nancy has no choice but to go behind Bishop's back and print the picture anyway. Then it might get enough of a favorable (or effective) reaction to cause Bishop to rethink his position. Incidentally, Mr. Bishop is played by Keith Painton, a radio announcer from Kansas City who is the office boss in the Calvin film 'The Bright Young Newcomer'. "Censorship: A Question of Judgment?" was written and directed by Reza Badiyi with photography by Maurice Prather (see Centron). Nothing spectacular, but worth a look. Of course, at only four and a half minutes, this film wouldn't take up too much of your time anyway.
January 25, 2004
Denial of reality
Is there a difference of opinion? What is censorship? Teen boys fight after school and a girl on the student newspaper gets a picture. Faculty advisor refuses to put it in the paper: "Parents will see it," "not what the people want," "will hurt the reputation of the school," "very poor taste," "what good will it do if all our newspapers do is print stories of fights and robberies and murders." The usual arguements that add up to: don't print the news if you don't *like* the news.